Basketball Grandma Becomes Internet Star

Melissa Knowles
Trending Now

Playing basketball well requires a certain level of skill, hand-eye coordination, and athleticism. People usually reach their peak performance level pretty young, but an elderly Chinese woman is proving that age is just a number when it comes to the love of the sport.

Zhu Shumei, who stands just five feet tall, is known as the "Basketball Grandma" by a beloved group of young people in China who, until recently, just knew her as a frequent visitor to Zhejiang Normal University in China. Shumei has been seen running 400-meter laps, climbing poles to stay fit, and hooping it up on the court. One day, Son Huating, a student at the university, noticed Shumei playing basketball and wanted to get to know her. Huating discovered Shumei's story of becoming a single mother after her husband divorced her when she was 54. Shumei was left to take care of her developmentally disabled daughter all on her own.

Time magazine recently did a story on Shumei, detailing her life's struggles and how she got into basketball as a way to cope. She used to borrow students' basketballs while they were not using them, and then she saved money to buy her own. After 20 years of playing, her favorite possession is a genuine leather basketball that she paid $80 for. Time's article even describes how precisely Shumei cares for her basketball, washing the ball daily before she takes it to the court.

Shumei lost her job at a library, forcing her to live on an allowance which equals only one-third of China's low minimum wage. Shumei's story inspired Huating and other students to solicit donations for the woman on China's version of Twitter, Sina Weibo. So far, the amount of money raised is enough for Shumei to make a down payment to join China's insurance pension program, which will pay her living expenses.

[Related: Three Things That Elderly People Do To Stay Mentally Active]

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